How to write a research paper in science

Very often graduate students and researchers, involved in scientific disciplines, underestimate the ability to document knowledge, to write and express thoughts clearly. This is a fundamental skill and it is a critical and necessary step on the journey to become an educated individual and a top researcher. This page describes a general outline for writing a scientific research paper and provides graduates with some general guidelines to better write technical documents. You are writing the research paper to sell your work to a given audience so you want to convince readers that what you are talking about is grounded and makes sense. If the paper is poorly written, regardless of the depth and impact of your research findings, it can easily led readers to dismiss your work. The general formatting requirements such as the font, spacing, size, section and subsection headings, paragraphs, tables, figures, equations, references, etc. are usually provided by the organising conference or journals in the form of a paper template. Editorial board members or reviewers may reject a paper simply because the formatting instructions have not been carefully followed.


length: 1/2 lines
The title should be attractive, relevant, concise, simple


length: 150/200 words
The abstract is a short, standalone summary of the paper that other researchers and practitioners can use as an overview. The purpose of this section is to provide readers with a brief summary of your research work enabling them to quickly determine whether it is relevant to read the rest of the paper or not. The main goal is to provide a good overview of the research in a way that highly motivate readers to keep reading.


length: 3/5 keywords
A list of keywords is aimed at helping those people who are electronically searching for research work just like you are looking for information on the web on a certain research area. Keywords (as single words or combined words) list the particular areas of study that your research covers. Usually, looking for a set of papers based on keywords will then move on reading the abstracts to narrow this list. Put most important keywords first.

1. Introduction

length: 1 page (3/4 paragraphs or 10% to 15% of the paper)
The introduction will introduce the reader to the general issues addressed in the paper.
  1. introduce the context of your research work
  2. introduce and describe the problem being addressed (problem statement)
  3. describe the importance of the problem and its relevance to the underlying field of study
  4. briefly describe the novel proposed solution to the problem and the purpose of the study
  5. state the research question
  6. outline the structure of the paper

2. Related Work

length: 2/3 pages (or 15% or 25% of the paper)
Generally, the Related Work section is immediately after the Introduction or at the end of the paper, before the Conclusions section. It is aimed at providing the readers with a better understanding of the problem. It is focused on introducing other approaches in the literature to solve the problem in hand. It enables the readers to contrast and compare the proposed solution with other existing work in the literature performed in the field.
  1. start with a few sentences describing the general domain
  2. present a preview of research areas particularly relevant to your problem and that you will discuss in depth
  3. create a body with different paragraphs, each discussing a different relevant thread of research
  4. a thread of research devoted to the synthesis of works using a different method to solve the same problem
  5. a thread of research devoted to the synthesis of works that use the same proposal method to solve a different problem
  6. a thread of research devoted to the synthesis of related problems that cover the domain of your problem
  7. a thread of research devoted to the synthesis of a similar method applied to solve a similar problem
  8. end the section with a paragraph that summaries reviewed work, emphasise the gaps justifying the research problem and the need of your solution

3. Design and methodology

length: 3/4 pages (or 20% or 25% of the paper)
The design and the methodology lie at the core of the research work, and it is aimed at satisfying one of the core principles behind the scientific method. Any scientific piece of research needs to be replicable and verifiable by other researchers, enabling the reviewing of the results by replicating the experiment and guaranteeing the validity. This section describes the rationale and the details behing the solution to the problem. This is a compulsory section and it is usually built upon several logically connected sub-sections. These subsections describes the methodology of the proposed solution or the steps to solving the problem (example CRISP-DM).

4. Results and discussion

length: 2/2 pages (or 25% or 40% of the paper)
The section is where you report the findings of your research based on the methodology you have applied. It should state the findings of the work organised in a logical manner without bias or interpretation. The goal is to identify various observed phenomena and emphasise the importance of observations made. The articulation of the results aids readers to better understand the problem, to break it into logical pieces, and to view it from various perspectives.

5. Conclusions and Future Work

length: 1/2 pages (or 5% or 10% of the paper)
This mandatory section summarises the paper, it draw conclusions about the proposed solution, and present future directions of the research. The conclusion is aimed at leaving a lasting impression. It conveys the larger significance of the study and succinctly answer the "So What?" question by contextualising the study within the larger body of knowledge, and how the research advances past research about the topic. It should offer new insight and creative approaches for framing or contextualizing the research problem based on the results obtained.


length: 2/3 lines
Sometimes, authors list people/organizations that helped carry the research work and publish it.


length: 1/4 pages
This section lists the references used to carry out the research and write the paper. The style for referencing research work depends on the referencing style decided by the organising conference or journal (eg. IEEE, APA, Chicago, Harward).


This section should contains material that is important, but if placed within the main text of the paper, might shift the focus or make it difficult to follow. Example include large tables with abundance of numbers.

After you have completed the first draft, read again the paper and: